Empathy Also Rises

The flames lick the edge of my skull as knives of searing heat wound the blackness draped over my eyes. The fire’s message singes my serenity, but I cannot pull back, or my kingdom will fall. Its crackling scampers across the air in a poignant dance loaded with meaning, while the incense blows a kiss sweetened with subtext. The trail of fires was lit with urgency; the spies have returned to Amygdala. Many more fiery trails spread dendritically from the other realms, but all their sparks end in the multifarious flickers of my personal light as it swings at the tip of our castle in the Cortex. The Lamp of Calcium was entrusted to me by my mother during the ritual of her passing. I will not fail her teachings; I read its fire, the subtlety of its movement, the scrawl of its warmth on my skin, as its burning colours warp silhouettes on the ancient stone of my columned chamber. Its smell shifts—sweet caving to salty. Only I can piece together these ciphers. Our Kingdom of Braintannia relies on the Cortex for wisdom, and the Cortex relies on my lineage. On me. They’re waiting. A prickling passes through my body; the intuitive wisdom of my lineage shudders with epiphany. Beyond my balcony, the trails of fire extinguish. It’s fine. I have the message. I run.

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